HEBRON | There are many amazing statistics to extract from the 91-year history of the boys Porter County Conference basketball tournament.
One of the most glaring is the fact Washington Township has never won the title. And the Senators have been in the draw every year.
You can be sure that Washington's excitable fourth-year coach Scott Bowersock let his players know about it.
"We want to take our program to new heights," Bowersock said Thursday night after his team managed a 42-32 victory over Boone Grove in the quarterfinal round. "In order to do that, we have to win championships."
Washington (8-4) will face Westville (7-4) in Saturday's semifinals, as the Blackhawks beat South Central 56-44 in the opener.
The Senators took the first step to that elusive title by dominating Boone (5-5) in the second half and avenging a 50-44 loss to the Wolves on Dec. 6.
Boone had trouble solving the Senators' full-court press, committing eight of its 25 turnovers in the third quarter. During that time, the Senators broke a 23-23 tie with a 10-2 run to end the period.
Washington's Nathan Line was the only player in the low-scoring game to hit double figures, collecting nine of his 12 points after Bowersock asked him to be more aggressive at halftime.
"In the first half he had some good looks but wasn't shooting," Bowersock said. "But in the second half, he demanded the ball and took it up strong."
Line had a putback to start the fourth quarter, giving the Senators a 35-25 lead. Later, Jake Goodan had a three-point play for a 42-30 advantage with 2:22 on the clock.
Brandon Adkins added nine points for Washington, with Alex Perez adding eight points and three assists. For Boone Grove, Niko Kilburg had a team-best eight points, while Jon Hogg was held to six points but grabbed 11 rebounds.
"Since I've been here this might be one of the most competitive years we've had in the PCC top to bottom," Bowersock said. "This is why the tournament is not easy to win."
In the opener, Westville jumped out to a 14-4 lead over South Central in the first quarter and never trailed. But it wasn't easy.
The Satellites (2-9) went to a zone defense that seemed to confuse the Blackhawks for a while. Westville committed 13 of its 19 turnovers in the middle two quarters, and by the end of the third quarter, sophomore Max Clemons had helped South Central cut the deficit to 36-33.
Clemons hit a jumper, scored on a driving layup and nailed a long 3-pointer at the quarter buzzer to spark the Satellites. But Westville recovered to finish the game on a 15-6 run to secure the victory.
"I thought our guys responded pretty well," Westville coach Rob Walker said.
Senior Alex Henn, who averages 10 points per game, scored a game-high 21 to lead the Blackhawks. He hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give his team some breathing room.
"He started out slow this season, because he was injured, but now he's playing like he did in the summer," Walker said. "We knew if he could recover and get back to the way he was playing in the summer, we'd be that much better."
Chris Wilkins added 12 points and nine rebounds for Westville. For South Central, Mark Richards led a balanced attack with 10 points, while Clemons finished with nine, and Johnny Rosenbaum had eight points and six rebounds.
The game marked Westville's first appearance in the PCC tourney since leaving the league in 1998. No one is happier the Blackhawks are back than Walker, a 1989 Hebron grad who previously coached at LaCrosse.
"There's no such thing as an easy win, and this proves it," said Walker, who said the school had a pep rally before the team left earlier in the day.